March 21, 2005

Boortz and Me on ANWR

from - smijer

Well, I've asked and looked, and haven't found anything that indicates to me that there are sound scientific reasons for worrying about the environmental impact of drilling a part of ANWR. Rick Dement has done an outstanding job debunking Neal Boortz' many mendatious claims about how oil production there will impact supply and the world economy. Nevertheless, I don't feel moved by Rick's argument that it is especially harmful to go ahead & drain American oil now rather than later. So, I'm going to break with my fellow Democrats on this one, and I'm going to ask that Democrats reading to please be sure they are working from good data before making alarmist claims about the environmental impact of drilling ANWR.

I'll also join them in holding the line on further exploration. The portion of ANWR that is set aside for oil exploration was limited to an area of tundra where our footprint can be relatively small. This is owed, in part, to steady activism from environmentalists and liberals, and we should keep our eyes open to see that the rest of ANWR remains off-limits for oil exploration.

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Posted by smijer at March 21, 2005 06:00 PM
Comments

I would be interested to know why you think it is an especially good idea to drill now? I can understand finding the environmental argument unpersuasive, and I could also see finding my argument unpersuasive if you felt that drilling ANWR would solve the problem. I would be interested in your thoughts as to what problem will get solved by drilling in ANWR.

And there is another angle to this that I find kind of dishonest and that has to do with the natural gas fields, but Iíll blog about that and then you decide if it makes sense.

univar.jpg Posted by Rick DeMent on March 21, 2005 06:39 PM
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I don't think it is an especially good idea to drill now. I just don't think it is an especially bad idea either. It's the same (relatively small) amount of oil either way. I understand your argument that later would be better, and I guess I agree with it as far as that goes. It just doesn't move me to feel like there is a great need to oppose drilling now.

univar.jpg Posted by smijer on March 21, 2005 06:47 PM
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P.S., I look forward to seeing what you have to say about natural gas production.

univar.jpg Posted by smijer on March 21, 2005 06:48 PM
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Rick,
Why not? It's a resource that is available. It's not as if it's the last remaining one, so we need to have it as some sort of "lockbox" (if you'll pardon the phrase). If we were to run the taps dry all over the world next week, it's not as if ANWR is the only fallback.
Trust me, once the world starts to really feel the pinch, and it may or may not be in our lifetimes, and gasoline is the equivalent of today's $20 bill per gallon, you'll see tons of research into alternative methods and a plethora of offshore drilling on any coast that has it. This isn't about SUVs...when it starts to run dry, all the other methods of petroleum usage (such as the PCs we're typing on) will be seen when the prices skyrocket.

We will be weaned off of oil, but it won't be for decades and it won't be until we *have* to be. And, we'll adjust in that case. And, finally, this isn't (or shouldn't be) a left or right issue.
There's a reason that virtually no one is driving an electric car.

univar.jpg Posted by RW on March 21, 2005 10:05 PM
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Politics is like raising kids. You have to pick the battles you feel are worth fighting. I am of the type that is all for drilling in ANWR and anywhere else that we can find oil. The hell of it is that if we drill in ANWR we will probably wind up selling what is there to Japan. Nothing makes sense to me so I figure it must be my problem. Last night at the local ball fields I looked out across the parking lot that was at least half full of gas guzzling SUV's. All of these guys will burn up a fifty dollar bill everytime they fill up with gas and none of them seem very concerned about it. Again I say, nothing makes sense to me so it must be my problem.

univar.jpg Posted by Buck on March 22, 2005 08:40 AM
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Buck, it confounds me, as well, when I look at the parking lot & consider that a lot of those vehicles are being funded by folks who make about $12/hour. But, as I learned long ago, it's none of my biz what someone does with their money......we're free.

univar.jpg Posted by RW on March 22, 2005 01:10 PM
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Et all,

There are two major oil fields that have yet to be tapped domestically, ANWR and off the east coat of Florida. Currently the US is one of the top producers of oil in the world, if we didnít use so much of it we would be a member of OPEC. Here are the reasons why not:

Because we will be giving enormous subsidies to oil companies both in the price of the oil extracted and in incentives to start the process of drilling. Why? What sense does that make? If itís not attractive enough for these companies to shoulder the cost of drilling, bringing it to market and purchasing it market prices then it should just stay there until the price of oil makes it more attractive. In order to let the market have the effect Ricky describes we have to let the market set the price, subsidizing the oil companies to drill is distorting that market and preventing the very thing that Ricky talked about.

Drilling in ANWR wonít solve the oil dependency problem, we will still be every bit as subject to the whims of the OPEC oil ministers once ANWR oil starts to flow. The only difference is that we will be draining our last big sources of cheap oil * see below. The only people who will benefit are the oil companies getting the subsidies. Why donít we all just write them a check instead so they can buy foreign oil?

Finally, and this is the most important reason but itís also the argument that few understand outside of petroleum geologists so I donít talk about it much because no one really gets it. Oil is a very unique compound; it creates the more energy of any substance short of radioactive material, and it is easily transported, there are no such things as electric airplanes. (I could write volumes about this but again people have this fantasy that there are replacements on the horizon for oil and frankly that is just not the case).

So I think that the burden of proof here is with those who want to drill, before we start shoveling out a boat load of tax money to get what will be a very small amount of oil, I want a much better reason then ďwhy notĒ, and frankly you all should too.

* The thing that makes ANWR and Gulf oil special is that it is relatively easy to extract and produces a higher grade of crude. All other domestic resources require expensive extraction techniques that push the cost of extraction higher.

univar.jpg Posted by Rick DeMent on March 22, 2005 04:23 PM
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Rick,

I was surprised to find out that the United States is the third largest oil producer in the world (Saudi Arabia #1 and Russia #2) At what point do you think the market would take care of the problem? Osama Bin Laden has argued that the price of oil should be $300.00 per barrel and feels like the Middle East is getting screwed out of its most precious natural resource. Dick Cheney agrees with Osama that cheap oil is a big problem.

R.W. hits my problem on the head when he notes that the price of wages are not even close to keeping up with the price of oil. If $56.00 per barrel oil equates to $2.10 per gallon gas then $300.00 per barrel oil is going to bring us per gallon prices of close to $12.00. That means that some will be working for one hour in order to be able to afford to drive 25 miles and fellers that sucks no matter how you slice it.

univar.jpg Posted by Buck on March 22, 2005 05:06 PM
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I have to ask you how drilling ANWR will hep with oil prices, the answer is, it won't. We can't produce enough oil to effect the price of oil, that's the problem.

Sure it sucks and it's going to suck worse in ten years when the economies of china and india are competeing with the US for this resource.

The only way to fix it, is to figure out how to use less, the era of the private auto will be over in 20 years.

univar.jpg Posted by Rick DeMent on March 23, 2005 12:53 PM
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